Local News

Drought Exposes Rare Boat in Tar River

Posted October 11, 2007

— Low river levels caused by a statewide drought have exposed a rare, sunken boat in the Tar River. Historians believe it was a pole vessel used on the Tar River before steam boats, when Tarboro and Old Sparta were booming port cities.

"It's exciting, to me. It's history," onlooker Anne Powell said.

"That's a nice boat. I never seen nothing like this," onlooker Joe Lewis said.

Historians said the 80-foot-long boat was likely built in the 1820s.

"Not many have been found in North Carolina, which is what makes this exciting," historian Monika Flemming said.

The sunken boat was discovered a few years ago, but the drought has made it visible from land for the first time.

"It's a major part of our history, and it's great to find something like this," onlooker Jonathan Reese said.

Crowds gather daily to catch a glimpse of the large wooden object from the river banks and the Old Sparta bridge.

"If you see this one thing, then imagine what's up and down the river that we don't know about," Reese said.

Some historians worry look-seekers will compromise artifacts. State officials have asked folks not to disturb the vessel.

"It's exciting to find it. I just hope it stays in tact long enough for the archaeologists to really be able to explore it more," Flemming said.

Edgecombe County sheriff's deputies have been asked to patrol the area. State archaeologists, currently working on what is thought to be Blackbeard's flagship, plan to study the Tar River boat soon, they say.

The Blackbeard wreckage was discovered in 1996 in Beaufort Inlet. The flagship ran aground in 1718. 


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  • mrtwinturbo Oct 12, 2007

    I think it belonged to the Unsinkable Molly Brown.....oops

  • taylor boy Oct 12, 2007

    I would love to do an inspection of the boat, and research its purpose and use in history. There's nothing like American history.

  • tarditi Oct 12, 2007

    Did they positively identify the vessel near Beaufort as the Queen Anne's Revenge, as indicated in the article? I thought it was only a strong hunch, but not certain.

  • harinootsak Oct 11, 2007

    OpenM1nd: that ain't no place to use whom :-]We're eager to see the ship before the river rises again.

  • Out3r LX Oct 11, 2007

    its on hwy 42 between hwy 33 and old sparta

  • Harry Canyon Oct 11, 2007

    It looks like the SS Minnow,but I could be wrong.

  • mrtwinturbo Oct 11, 2007

    I googled (images) for pole vessel and did not like some of the results

  • SOCLOSE Oct 11, 2007

    Does anyone know where in Tarboro, the boat is located? I would like to see it.

  • shine Oct 11, 2007

    There is alot of history on that old "Tar river".